November 17, 2006 the world lost a lovely, lovely soul.
My friend, Alice, was one of the most generous, kind, loving, compassionate, giving and cozy people I have ever known.
Alice and her husband lived in an old restored log home filled with warmth and charm and I like to think that one of the ZippyStrippyQuilts I made for her during her illness helped keep her cozy during the time of her awful treatments.
In honor of Alice and her spirit I want to do a ZippyStrippyQuilt giveaway.
This is a lovely, velvetty, fine-wale corduroy quilt in happy shades of red, blue, black and white. It is approximately 50 inches by 70 inches so it's cozy to tuck around you on a blustery winter day. You can click on the picture to see it in closer detail. Here are the "rules" of this giveaway:
1. I will choose a winner on Saturday, November 21. 2. Your ZippyStrippyQuilt will ship out on Monday, November 23 priority mail (just in time to cuddle up with over Thanksgiving) 3. Get one chance to win by answering this question in a comment to this giveaway post: What quality do you most admire in a friend. 4. Get another chance to win by telling me you are a follower of my blog in a separate comment. 5. Get a third chance to win by posting about this giveaway on your blog and commenting you have done so.
This quilt comes from a non-smoking home and is double washed in hypo-allergenic detergent.
Thank you for helping me honor Alice's spirit by entering this giveaway.
Oh, and Alice, if you are blogging in Heaven, I miss you.
The rest of this is long. But I am posting it if you have a lovely cup of coffee and want to go on a little journey.
On winter nights this driveway would be an arch of black branches silhouetted against a velvety midnight-blue sky studded with stars. Snow would drift in glittery beauty across its path and lay in violet shadows stark on the dirt and gravel textures.
In the spring the branches would come alive with tender green buds unfurling to the cloud punctuated sky. The scent of the earth coming alive would perfume the air as you lingered there in the weak and dappled sunshine spattered across the muddy thoroughfare.
In the summer a canopy of greens, luminous and rich in their depth and variety of shades and intensities would soften the hard glare of the sun and offer small consolation to the dusty heat as you sheltered beneath the massive and interwoven branches.
But this was Autumn and in this radiant season the ancient trees showed their bright and glowing colors in a fantasy blaze of intense golden, orange, russet and crimson beauty. The entire ¼ mile length of the driveway was decorated with a confetti of the brilliant, warm colors. Scattered on the ground and drifting through the air the driveway felt like a passage back into another time and place.
The driveway passed through fields still brilliant with green and other fields bristled with the pale golden symmetry of un-harvested cornfields. The rolling hills of croplands stretched far to meet distant horizons painted carefully in the distance in the hazy, muted tones of autumn grandeur. Low gray clouds cast shadows on the rolling hills, deepening the colors and adding a small chill to the sunshiny day. That essence and feeling that is Fall, that indescribable and nostalgic smell of burning leaves and autumn chill stirred our memories of all the seasons that had passed before this one and reminded us of all the beauty waiting in seasons yet to come.
Leaving the kaleidoscope of color in the driveway we entered a large clearing…acres and acres of green, gold, and the rich brown of plowed fields quilted our view as far as our eyes could see. As the clouds flirted with the sun, shadows deepened and intensified…oh, this was a magic place. There was no outside world anymore. There was only this place, this land, this amazing beauty.
And in the middle of all this was a house…a very old, hand-hewn log house. Stone chimneys bracketed each end. A wrap around porch hugged close to the logs on two sides. Corn shocks and baskets of mums decorated the porch posts.
But brighter still on this porch was the smile of my lovely friend.. Alice and I have known each other for a long time. Originally I was friends with her sister-in-law but over time she and I became very close. We had both been members of a wonderful club called “The Queens of King Road” and there are many wonderful stories to share about our little outings but those will have to wait for another time.
Alice and her husband and their daughter and son-in-law had bought this property several years ago and although I had heard stories and seen pictures of it I had never been there. My husband was speechless. I was speechless. My daughter and the boyfriend were speechless. This was an amazing and wonderful place. I knew from earlier letters and e-mails that the house, in a state of decay and neglect, had been taken apart, log by log, and reassembled on a slightly different spot. I knew that the chimneys had been reconstructed and that the porch and bigger windows had been added. I did not know and certainly never imagined the sense of timelessness, peace and beauty that existed on these quiet and beautiful acres.
Every log, every inch of chinking, the careful mortaring of the stones, the thoughtful placement of the windows stated with quiet emphasis the care, love and sweat that had gone into recreating this home. The ancient logs hewn decades earlier had again become warm shelter. Modern adaptations to the structure melded together seamlessly with century old workmanship. This was a house originally built with love and care and now re-built with love and care. It was amazing.
The views from the porches took your breath away. The clouds behaved for a little while and let the low-slanting autumn sun illuminate the log house, the barn and the amazing outbuildings with golden-toned clarity. My friend’s husband dragged my husband off to look at things, my daughter and her boyfriend went along, and I just stood with my friend wrapped in history and memory and warmth. It was a magic moment for me.
We all wandered. Inside the home where many little grandchildren played and visitors lingered in the kitchen to enjoy wonderful desserts and company. We saw all the hard work that had taken place and all the love that had initiated the hard work. Fireplaces, laid with great attention to balance and color dominated several rooms, some with little pieces of millstones or other special treasures saved for generations to come. Windows looked out onto amazing vistas from every room. Vintage bathroom fixtures added ambiance to sometimes overlooked rooms. Everywhere was warmth and care and love and creativeness.
We wandered outside. The outbuildings were amazing. Most original and some covered in clapboard, some with exposed logs, some with amazing stone foundations, some restored, some in the process. Here a pair of faded overalls decorated a clothesline. There a rustic handmade grapevine wreath decorated some faded white paint on a sweet little building. A perfectly level corn crib was particularly intriquing to me. Its strong horizontal lines and obvious craftsmanship transported me instantly to an age when people put their heart into their craft…and this humble farm building had been lovingly constructed. Other charming sights were everywhere – ice skates hung on an outbuilding door, little bright spots of zinnias still valiantly in bloom, some still green grape leaves adorned weathered and gnarled old vines.
The massive barn contained other surprises. An inside rope swing, a pair of old horse drawn buggies in the corner, intact grain chutes and weathervanes and that lofty echoing mustiness you can only find a barn that has stood for decades. Oh, this was a wondrous place to visit and embrace into memory.
My daughter and her boyfriend traveled over the acres on a bright red ATV while my husband and I wandered the farm with our hosts, here admiring the beautiful color of foliage growing by a primitive fence, there exclaiming over the way the small stream bubbled over random stones.
The clouds gathered for a few moments with the feeling that falling temperatures and snow would not be far behind. I remembered that feeling. The end of the Autumn and the start of the winter. I shivered for a moment with the chill and a little sad nostalgia.
Before we left we all went to one of the highest hills above the house and barn. There my friends daughter and her husband were building a new house. The foundation and driveway were present and it was easy to imagine sitting on a big porch and watching sunsets for many years to come. It would be a house to last the years and to, perhaps, grow old in.
We stood at the top of the hill and watched their grandchildren play. We watched the light change as clouds came and went. We stood quietly. It was difficult to find words to explain the place and the feelings… it still is.
Our little trip back down the magical driveway was silent. No radio, no talking, just quiet. As we came back onto the secondary road from the enchantment of the farm my husband said quietly, “I really love this place.” And I just reached over and took his hand. It was an amazing place and I will remember those feelings forever.